New Ways To Make Things Out Of Glass: The Nordic Music Awards 2012

29 Nov

Whoo Hoo!

So apparently the Nordic Music Awards nominees were announced  some time yesterday. No, i really didn’t know what that was either, but it was apparently set up a couple of years ago to ape the likes of the British Mercury Music Prize, or the Polaris Music Prize, these things being one of the biggest industry hype balloons going on out there – ironic considering that the Mercury Music Prize was set up as an alternative to the hogfest that is the Brit awards (Which are essentially run by the same people!).

Of course the first I knew about it was when the indomitable Birkir Fjalar from Halifax Collect blogged about it yesterday. It’s a good post and i recommend that you all go and read it, mainly because in my inherent laziness, I can’t be bothered reposting the actual short list information here (Also he needs the traffic). You’ll also get to read who he voted for, as he was one of those glorious music industry people who was actually asked for their opinion.

Of course he asked the question:

“Why Bob Seacow of the Shetlands is not in on this… Reasons escape me!”

Well I can explain why I’m never asked to adjudicate in award do’s in a few easy steps.

1) I’m an idiot.

2) I’m an idiot that really doesn’t want anything to do with what amounts to a hideous industry/scene circle jerk.

3) I’m an idiot that, even if I were to be asked for my nominations, I’d probably just do my utmost to troll them and screw with the scoring system.

Looking at the long/short list, it contains the usual names and faces. You’ve got ones that you agree with, some that make you go “Weeeell, I’m not a big fan, but it was certainly popular with everyone, so no surprises there,” and those that  make you go “WHAT? Oh no, not them!!” but every short-list has some of that going, and at least the long list had a few more names that I would have certainly voted for (although there were no signs of Legend, Celestine, Valgeir Sigurðsson or Þórir Georg).

Alas, due to the nature of Icelandic album scheduling, there were quite a few albums on the lists had only hit the shops in the past month, mostly being released before, or during Iceland Airwaves to catch the tourist dollar. Despite them being “fresh” to people’s eyes and ears, all that seemed fair enough.

But there was one thing that had my head scratching a bit to say the least – namely why Petur Ben’s album was on the short list of nominations. Now whether or not his album is worthy to be selected musically is one thing (That’s for another post), but it hasn’t actually been officially released in record stores, and has only been available online over the past couple of weeks on Gogoyoko only (According to Frettablaðið, so it would be eligible to be considered for the Icelandic Music Awards). Of course it’s tough if you’re self releasing your music, and gaining a nomination like this will help, but what does it say about Iceland’s music industry when there are so many other albums that at least could have been considered  but were left out for something that hardly anyone has heard?

Of course this could have easily fallen into down a rabbit hole of bile, but instead I utilised the POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA and contacted the judge representing Iceland in the awards (And Officially, “The most powerful man in Icelandic music™”) Arnar Eggert Thoroddsen why the album was on the shortlist. And even more freaky, he replied! This is what he said.

“Hi Bob :o). Interesting points. Well, in my opinion, if an artist puts out his album for streaming it’s out there and it could not have been overlooked. According to Pétur, the album has been released digitally and that’s as official as any release format. He can add other formats later. But downloads/streams are as eligible as physical formats in my opinion. As for the long list, there were five of us that put it together and I also sought out points/recommendations from other sources. But I’m chairing it, that’s true. Of course, records that have been out for merely a week or two, it’s hard to put judgement on that, I agree. But we have to look to the deadlines/cut off. If the album is released before that, it’s in the official running. Hope this helps…” 

Hmm… seems legit. He’s right of course. If it’s available, even on one site, in one format, before a deadline, then it counts. Just ask Hjaltalíin about this!

I guess it’s pretty much that I come from a dark and cynical land where something like this, while in many ways perfectly fine and above-board, would have certainly raised a few eyebrows. If you take something like this year’s Mercury Music prize, one of the nominations was released fairly close to the deadline, but many of the albums had been out for a while. This allowed them to be disseminated and discussed by music critics/writers/bloggers, and while some of the nominations weren’t big sellers, there at least was some form of consensus reached amongst most within the industry and the press that these albums had some form of quality.

I suppose what I’m wondering out (fairly loudly) is how Iceland’s music industry and our nation’s music writers/critics/bloggers (who are in theory supposed to act as some form of bulwark against needless hype rigging, etc) managed to reach a consensus on this SO FAST before they’ve even had a chance to switch on their laptops and actually write down what it is that makes this album so great to them in the first place! I only received a link to a download review copy of it 10 days ago when the nominations were being made, and have only had a chance to hear it twice.

But what´s done is done, nothing to see here. Good luck to whoever wins, but I don’t think I need to expend any more time on it. But to finish things off, I’ll leave you with an album that was at least on the longlist. In the next few weeks, I’ll probably have to get my head around sorting what were my albums or the year (This will actually be rather tough, and not for the reasons you think…). But this is definitely one of the albums that would make it on the list. When they performed it in a reading room at the Icelandic Cultural House, time almost certainly stood still (I almost remember the air became physically more dense as well). Getting this records is so worth your money when you all get paid this weekend…

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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Iceland, literature, music


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